The president's golf outing with Melody Barnes, his domestic policy adviser, did little to quell rumblings that the White House is too much of a boys' club. Critics say his all-male basketball games are unfair because they exclude women from the informal relationships that inevitably result. The president calls the charge "bunk," but seems aware that the optics aren't in his favor.

Female columnists have mostly reacted to the testosterone-laden b-ball games with a shrug. For their part, right-leaning Kathleen Parker and zealous lefty Maureen Dowd have both insisted that they wouldn't want to join the men's games. But they also stress that being excluded from the boys' club is a real professional obstacle, so they scheme up some plans to gain their own intimate access to the commander-in-chief. Others haven't been so lighthearted.

  • How About a Game of Scrabble, Mr. President?  The New York Times's Maureen Dowd challenges Obama to a war of words. "Since the president is finally willing to let women in on the games, I offered up my own challenge: Scrabble. I'm curious about what X and Z words the smarty-pants Y chief executive can come up with." On a more serious note, Dowd says it's "a bit surprising" that the old boys club tradition "recurred with the first black president." Maybe, she suggests, "it is the very enormity of the change Obama represents that makes him cautious at times about more change."
  • Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game  At The Washington Post, Kathleen Parker says that instead of complaining about how unfair the situation is, women should get creative. "Women peeved by the president's perceived masculine insularity might benefit from my father's advice when, as a young girl, I complained about life's unfairness. 'Don't complain about the game,' he said. 'Learn the game and play it better.' There's more than one way to score a point, in other words, and history has never suggested women are unclever. If you can't join them, in other words, beat them. "If absolute parity of access to the president is essential to women's sense of well-being, perhaps they should create a bowling league of their own and invite the president to play. I hear he has a bowling alley in his house. And, if memory serves, women may expect to prevail."
  • Obama--Misogynist?  Bonnie Erbe of U.S. News doesn't care how many women Obama invites onto the golf course, the basketball court, or anywhere else. She believes that Obama doesn't care about women, women's issues, or his wife's career:
"Whether it was his treatment of Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail (as in his condescending remark that she was "likeable enough") or his clearly career-oriented mate who has been toned down and remorphed into a Stepford Wife, I just don't get the impression this man is comfortable with women. Nor do I believe he cares about them beyond needing women's votes. It's an act and a thoroughly see-through, amateur one at that."